Sunday, April 29, 2007

Animal Farm and West Coast

A bit of a setback a few days ago as Blake got a wicked stomach virus and drove the porcelain heaps of various animals that roam about unfettered. There were pigs, deer, stags, alpacas, llamas, ducks, donkeys, yaks, bison, highland cattle, miniature horses, goats and us. Visitors are encouraged to feed any of them except the bison, though approaching the highland cattle takes quite a pair (1). The llamas were especially friendly once you got out of your car (2). When donkeys are behind a fence they manage to get their mouths as close to your food as possible (3).

Eventually we made it to the west coast of the south island which is the least populated on account of the heavy wind and rain but provides some nice sunsets (4) (Dave D. this photo is copyrighted!) And some interesting landscapes as a result. We were half expecting Yoda to goose us in this swamp (5).bus for a day. But after that we got back on track and visited Deer Park Heights which hosts

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Queenstown and Fiordland

NOTE: Once again next 3 blogs are posted simultaneously but split up so more pics could be uploaded. We decided to also see Doubtful sound which rivals Milford sound as the most scenic in Fiordland. Here’s a couple pics (1) and (2). When we got back onto the boat, a young alpine parrot visited us again (3). The young ones aren’t very shy around humans. We then drove to Queenstown where many of the surrounding areas were used for scenes by Peter Jackson. The next 2 pics are LOTR related: (4) another one of the 4 rivers portraying the Anduin and (5) the edge of Fangorn forest in the 2nd movie where they burned the pile of dead orcs.

More LOTR stuff

Yet another LOTR site- the beach at the end of the first movie where the fellowship is separated (1). Also nearby was the hillside where some of the orc chases were shot (2). A day later we stopped by the place where they filmed the hobbits cooking a rabbit with Smeagol (3) and also where they saw the oliphants marching with the army near Ithilien (4).

That same day we also saw a few other LOTR sites- (1) this one is Isengard (tower not included). The next day we decided to do some paragliding from the top of a hill next to Queenstown. (2) The view of Queenstown and (3) Blake paragliding in the foreground with Betsy in the distance. The day after we did some jet boating through some narrow canyons (these Kiwis are a little nuts) and happened to jet through the Ford of Bruinen site aka Skippers Canyon where the flood takes out the Nazgul (4). This is different from the Arrow river site where they took shots from a different angle. The road to Skippers Canyon is bitchin’ (5).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Milford and Routeburn tracks part 1

NOTE: The next 2 blogs are together. A couple weeks ago we did the Milford Track. It goes through Fiordland which gets 7 meters of rain a year so we were lucky to have 4 of the 5 days in sunshine though a bit unlucky to have our 1 day of rain and clouds the same day as the summit section.
A day after that we started the Routeburn Track which had great southern alpine views despite
more rain but the visibility was still decent. (1) Milford Track- Clinton Valley. (2) Milford Track- typical view of the trail. (3) Sutherland falls (580 meters- 7th highest in the world). The story goes... two explorers, Sutherland and MacKay came across a nice set of falls earlier in the canyon (but not worth posting here) and MacKay won the coin toss to name them after himself but graciously, in a half-assed way, assured Sutherland he could name the next. Doh. (4) Routeburn track- Key summit tarn. (5) Hollyford valley.

Milford and Routeburn tracks part 2

More Routeburn track pics. (1) Lake Harris. (2) Harris saddle. (3) Some small tarns and Lake Harris in the back. (4) Some bold Kea parrots. These parrots will attempt to go through your pack when you turn around or fly away with your sandwich. Cheeky bastards. (5) Bush robin. These are not shy at all and think your shoelaces are worms so if you stand still, they’ll hop on your boots. Betsy's in this case.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

LOTR pics and Moeraki boulders

Near Arrowtown, two more LOTR sites: (1) Ford of Bruinen- where they filmed Arwen taking Frodo through the river on horseback with the nazgul following. The flood sequence was filmed on a different river nearby. (2) Forest trail where Isuldur fell to the orcs. It’s not in the original movie, just the extended version DVDs.

(3) On one particular beach there are some strange round boulders spread about. Against better judgement, this picture has been posted (4). Remember that children and parents potentially read the comments…..

Monday, April 2, 2007

Central south island

First of all, a quick shoutout once again to the hospitable Wellingtonians who entertained us while we were there- David DuBois and his fincee Janine who made us our first home cooked meal in over a month and took us to the scenic spots in and around the city. And to Julian Gonzalez who showed us the cultural center of Wellington and guided us to a tasty Malaysian lunch spot. It was nice to not look like a couple of deer-in-headlights tourists for a couple days trying to find things on our own.

At this point we’re well into the south island. Starting this Wednesday (your Tuesday) we will be undertaking an 8 day hiking excursion on the Milford and Routeburn tracks. So it’s likely there won’t be any contact from us until a week later.

Here’s what we’ve found on the south island so far. (1) and (2) A long dirt road leads to the place where Edoras was built in the second LOTR movie. Probably one of the few places they could film wide shots without having to enhance anything as the natural surroundings were perfect and eerily accurate to the books. (3) A swing bridge on the way to Hooker glacier near Mt Cook. (4) Hooker lake, Hooker glacier and Mt Cook. Mt Cook is the highest peak in NZ at 3754 meters. (5) Kawarau river – another one of the many rivers that doubled as Anduin. This is the section where they digitally added the Pillar of Kings.

If you haven't checked in a while, don't miss the 3 blogs added a couple days ago below this one.